Sunday 18 January 2015
When I was little, I grew up around music. Never a week passed without my parents putting on a record, turning up the volume so the album could be heard regardless of where one was in the house, and music filling our home even if it was only for the length of a record . . . both sides, of course. When they became the norm, cassettes replaced all of our records. My brother and I both had our own cassette decks, or boom boxes, whatever you want to label them. Despite the initial cost of discs being around $30, my life was made complete when I was gifted a brand new stereo because my dodgy old one with double cassette players, record turntable, and radio packed it in. My new stereo came fully fitted with a new fangled CD player, and then my absolute standards of record turntable, radio, and double cassette players. I simply had far too many cassettes and limited edition picture disc records to completely let go of the fast outdating technology.
We were a music loving family. My mama and brother might not have been able to play any musical instrument, or carry a tune, and the biological male unit only phaffed around with his guitar, but eventually, I was determined to play an instrument and learned the keyboards. Slightly stepping off track for a moment here, but it’s all about providing evidence that we were a family that thoroughly enjoyed music. I replaced almost every cassette that I owned with its CD counterpart. I really, really like music.
Strangely though, I never really appreciated female singers until I was about thirteen. That’s not to say that I wasn’t exposed to female vocalists. Hell, if there wasn’t an ABBA, Carpenters, or Olivia Newton-John record going in our house at some point during each month, then it was probably a very poor music month for us. The thing is, I think I just simply preferred listening to male singers. Yep, that’s fair to say. As a kid, my favourite band was KISS, probably because my brother happened to like them, and I remember my uncle on my mama’s side getting me the KISS Dynasty cassette, and a Gene Simmons doll for Christmas one year. However, I digress again . . .
When I finally did start to really appreciate female vocalists, I was smitten with Roxette. I’ve covered my love of Roxette in a couple of posts, so I won’t go into too much detail here. After Roxette came quite a line of female vocalists. Some of them I’ve been bagged out about liking, but music is a personal thing, and I don’t think it’s anyone else’s place to tell you that what you listen to is rubbish. So, as I’m in need of a new blog post, I’m gonna rattle off some of the female vocalists who I think are, at the very least, good.
- Marie Fredriksson of Roxette: not going to go into a lot of detail however, I will say that she was a voice that I find particularly soulful or, to use a Roxette song title, soul deep. She has a voice that can rip your heart out, she can sound sassy or sweet. When I hear her sing a lyric, I often think that nobody else could get to the heart of a song the way Marie does.
- Céline Dion: I’ve been mercilessly bagged out for liking Céline, and to those people who have constantly given me sh!t for it, you can go take a long walk off of a short plank. I’ve seen her live in concert on two occasions, and not only can she belt out a song, but Céline puts on one hell of a live show. I’ve got my favourite songs from her catalogue, and they tend to be ones that aren’t necessarily well known – Where Does My Heart Beat Now?, If We Could Start Over, Think Twice, Next Plane Out, When I Fall In Love, Just Walk Away, Next Plane Out, The Power Of Love, Pour Que Tu M’Aimes Encore, Les Deniers Seront Les Premier, On Ne Change Pas, Water From The Moon (Diane Warren, you are a remarkable songstress!), If You Asked Me To, Love Doesn’t Ask Why, Nothing Broken But My Heart, It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, All By Myself, I Love You, If That’s What It Takes (English version of a French song), Immortality, Miles To Go (Before I Sleep), Where Is the Love, That’s The Way It Is, To Love You More, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, A New Day Has Come, I Surrender, Faith, I Drove All Night, Tout L’or Des Hommes, Taking Chances, Alone, Somebody Loves Somebody, Incredible, Unfinished Songs, I Believe In You (with Il Divo) . . . yep, there are a lot of Céline’s songs that I like.
- Ann Wilson of Heart: Holy sh!t, this woman . . . if you’ve never heard a Heart song that Ann Wilson sings, you’re missing out on an utterly incredible voice. Powerful and yet controlled. Sexy and sweet. For me, Ann is the absolute epitome of soulful female vocalists. Get yourself a Heart album right now and listen to this woman. I really like the Bad Animals album, but Brigade has some incredible songs like I Didn’t Want To Need You and Stranded, and the albums Heart, and Desire Walks On are fantastic too . . . and These Dreams: Greatest Hits Love, love, love Ann Wilson. (Nancy, Ann’s sister, is also a great vocalist). Ann has a big voice that, I believe, is unmatched by most other singers, male or female.
- Jann Arden: maybe you’ve heard the songs Insensitive or Gasoline? Chuck in there Good Mother, Living Under June, I Would Die For You, Could I Be Your Girl?. Haven’t heard of her? Listen to the album Living Under June . . . it’s my personal favourite of her work. Again, this lady’s got soul.
- Amanda Marshall: OK, there’s some crazy hair going on here, but don’t let that distract you. Amanda Marshall can sing. My favourite song is Let It Rain, and that’s followed by Dark Horse, Believe In You, Why Don’t You Love Me?, and Shades Of Grey (nothing at all to do with the book that has that colour in the title. This song came first!). Get an earful of her work.
- Billie Myers: Growing Pains is a fantastic album, with songs like Kiss The Rain, A Few Words Too Many (brilliant song!), and Tell Me. Her second album, Vertigo, contains a couple of songs that I really like – Should I Call You Jesus?, and Am I Here Yet? (Return To Sender).
- Sarah Brightman: I don’t care if you don’t like her because all you can see is Sarah as Christine in The Phantom Of The Opera stage musical, you should hear some of her cross-over work. Dive, Harem and Eden are my favourite albums, and she’s got a great range of work including It’s A Beautiful Day, A Question Of Honour, Captain Nemo, The Second Element (parts 1 & 2), Once In A Lifetime, Johnny Wann Live, By Now, Island, When It Rains In America, How Can Heaven Love Me?, You Take My Breath Away (LOVE this one), Time To Say Goodbye, Deliver Me (LOVE this one too), Scarborough Fair, Here With Me, She Doesn’t See Me, Free, Beautiful, Fleurs Du Mal, Symphony, Let It Rain, and Glósóli.
- Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation: Anyone who has ever heard Within Temptation, I’m sure, will tell you what a killer voice Sharon has. There’s no way to adequately describe Sharon’s voice, so the easiest way for you to understand what I mean, is for you to get yourself a copy of say, The Heart Of Everything or The Unforgiving, or perhaps watch Black Symphony on DVD. Just go right ahead and do that now.
Clearly, I could go on . . . and on . . . and on. These days, there are many female vocalists that I listen to. Cyndi Lauper, P!nk, Katy Perry the list goes on, and there are bound to be loads that I’ve momentarily blanked out because you know what it’s like trying to remember all of the awesome stuff that you like.
So, leave me a comment and let me know which female vocalists are on your radar.